Photo from Gjelina websiteI know most of the wine clubbers, especially the Venice girls, have been to Gjelina, but I just wanted to share thoughts on my latest meal in case you haven't been recently. Saturday night, a friend and I headed to Gjelina over on Abbot Kinney for dinner. We did not have a reservation, but got seated at the communal table after only a 15 minute wait at 7:15pm, which passed by quickly after opening a bottle of wine. I've found that trendy places like Gjelina (and a few places in NYC like Lupa) that have a decent portion of the restaurant, like a large bar area, set aside for walk-ins, generally overestimate the wait significantly; I think they do that to not only scare away tourists and newcomers who are more easily discouraged but also maintain an aura of popularity and exclusivity. That's just my theory, but it usually works. Even though we were originally told that it would be an hour wait, I could see that there was no one else waiting, so we just decided to wait it out. As long as you can get a drink, I usually don't mind waiting. We had the oysters in the halfshell (kumamoto, kushi and malpeques), roasted sunchokes with salsa verde, grilled chicory with bacon vinaigrette and a fried egg, hen of the woods mushroom with truffle oil on grilled toast, grilled squid with white beans, and an olive, chili, anchovies pizza with burrata. We paired everything with a bottle of a 2009 Carneros albarino which was perfect with all the food, crisp with a little fruit and just enough acid to stand up to the food. Those Spanish whites are such a perfect match for food, and I was excited to see a California producer using the Spanish albarino grape. I really enjoyed the food; my favorites were the malpeques (I like malpeques from my NYC days; they were the most prevalent given the proximity to Prince Edward Island), the sunchokes (nice charred grilled flavor on the edges) and the mushroom toast (so decadent with the truffle). While they are a tad heavy handed with the olive oil, the food is delicious nonetheless and the wine was helpful in balancing out the richness. Service was good too, they checked in on us often and there was good pacing with the food; never once did we feel rushed even though there was a long line of people waiting by the time we left. At $73 per person for just the right amount of food, a bottle of wine, and gratuity, the meal was relatively reasonable.
1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291-3740